I have reviewed a lot of docks lately, looking for ways to set up my Steam Deck, and possibly improve my overall workspace experience. Now I’ve gotten the chance to check out the Dock Pro Universal 4K Quad Docking Station from IOGEAR. Far more than a mere dock, this device is packing some serious power into its compact form. Let’s get a closer look at this work-from-home device, and see why you might need this for your setup.
You should know up front that this isn’t a low-power $40 hub. The Dock Pro is a high-end professional device, and it’s priced according to what it can do – $399 in this case. We’ve certainly looked at our fair share of simple USB-C hubs, capable of connecting a device like a laptop to a full-sized monitor, along with a keyboard, mouse, or anything else you want to connect up in a hurry. At most, even at the high end, the best you can do is two monitors. Most often, when you do connect them, they drop down to 1080p if you connect more than one. [email protected] isn’t outside the realm of possibility, but multiple 4K of any refresh amount certainly is. You’ll need a different class of dock for that, and the Dock Pro is in that class.
Unboxing the Dock Pro, it’s an incredibly simple looking device on the surface. It looks like just about any other dock-in-a-box you’ll find. It has an aluminum chassis, and it includes a little stand so you can set it vertically or horizontally on your desk. Closer inspection reveals a whole lot more ports than is normal on a dock, so let’s start there as the differences will become immediately clear.
First and foremost you’ll see that there are a whopping eight connections for video – four HDMI, and four DisplayPort outputs, all connecting on the back. That isn’t to say you can connect eight display devices, but more that you have all the flexibility you could want with what you connect. These are HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4, respectively, which support up to 4K resolution and at 60Hz, and that’s important for far more than just gaming. 60Hz refresh rates help overall eye strain and headaches as the screen should flicker less and be more clear than one running at 30Hz. Higher refresh rates are, of course, preferable, but 60Hz does the trick quite nicely for all but eSports titles. It should help with general use for your day-to-day computing as well. Modern laptops have the power to drive four monitors, but often rely on the user connecting one HDMI cable, and then using the remaining USB-C ports for up to two more. Here we are using a single USB-C port to connect up to four full-sized monitors. The simplicity of being able to sit down, connect a single cable, and suddenly have a full quad setup is simple and easy to use, making it perfect for high-end setups, call centers, network operating centers, or anywhere else you might need this many displays simultaneously.
Moving onto the ports on the front of the Dock Pro, you’ll find that IOGEAR didn’t compromise here either. Three USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports (also known as USB 3.2 Gen 2 – thanks IEEE for the confusing naming) grace the front panel, each capable of 10gbps simultaneously. Other docks often split the lane between two ports, providing 5gbps to each, and here we have a combined 30gbps of throughput. Next you’ll find a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, which is honestly the only port on this device I was disappointed by – at this price point it should be USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 for 20Gbps of throughput. A single USB-A smart charger port, designated by a red internal color, provides 100W charging to any connected device at 20V/5A. This QC 3.0 port will charge any device while you are using it, with plenty of power to spare. .
Rounding out the front of the device, we have something very rare to see – a 3.5mm TRRS audio port. This combo port can be used for headphones or a microphone, and the circuitry in the Dock Pro will sense and switch accordingly. The last pair of ports are an SD and a MicroSD slot. Once again, these are not sharing the same channel, meaning you can use them simultaneously.
Heading to the back of the device once again, we find a Gigabit Ethernet port. This should be more than enough to feed your need for speed. We also find a DC power port here as well. But wait, didn’t we say this was powered via USB-C? Well, yes – but this device has something I’ve not seen on any dock to date – dual power solutions. This means you can power your laptop via its standard power cable, and feed everything connected to the dock via the USB-C cable, or you could plug in DC power to this port and effectively reverse that chain. This means you could instead leave that laptop power cable at home, powering the laptop directly from the dock’s USB-C cable, and feeding all of the connected devices off that same dock power supply. As such, this DC power connector supplies a full 120W of juice – more than enough for any hungry system and peripherals. The convenience of not even having to plug in anything beyond a single USB-C cable can’t be overstated, and it means you can use this dock for multiple users easy enough – whomever is on shift simply plugs in that one cable and they are off to the races.
I personally use three monitors on my desktop, but I am very limited when it comes to my laptop situation. I have connected a secondary monitor that attaches to the back and slides out, but when it comes to approximating my desktop environment, it’s just not happening. The Dock Pro makes it not only possible, but convenient. Better still, it’s simple – and that’s the strength.
At a price of $399, the question becomes “Who is the Dock Pro for?”, and that’s a valid question. Depending on your use case at home, you might have a super expansive setup, and that makes this a viable option. I personally use three monitors with my primary machine, but it’s a vastly reduced experience on my laptop. This dock solution means I can use either one easily, but most folks are not using a setup like this, even in a work from home environment. As such, the Dock Pro is likely serving a completely different audience entirely.
911 call centers, network operating centers, technical support, and other spaces where employees come in and sit in the same cube every day is an obvious use case for the Dock Pro, but that’s not necessarily the world we live in post-COVID. Now companies are being more flexible about when people come in, with some team members coming in once a week or less. As such, companies have shrunk their physical footprint, or moved to a shared space. As such, person A might come in on Mondays, and person B is at this desk on Tuesdays, and so on. Using the Dock Pro, that person plugs in a single USB-C cable and their power, connectivity, displays, and more. When their day is done, they unplug that single cable and the whole setup is ready for the next person. It’s elegant in a way that you’d normally have to configure a high-end, and far more expensive, KVM to accomplish. In that scenario, the Dock Pro is not only a hit, but a necessity.
There are only two areas where I feel the Dock Pro falls short, and price is actually not one of them. In fact, the price, even at $399, is remarkably reasonable for an enterprise-class connectivity device. No, the pieces that fall short are the USB-C port, and the warranty. The USB-C port on this device is USB-C Gen 3.2. This limits the throughput to 10 Gbps. That’s a lot of speed, but at this price point, it should be USB-C 3.2 2×2. When used for video production, which the inclusion of the SD card readers suggests, this sort of transfer speed becomes incredibly important.
The Dock Pro ships with a 1 year warranty. Frankly, that’s just unacceptable. The refresh cycle in any traditional IT shop is either 3 years or 5 years, with most peripheral class devices being “run it until it explodes”. I’m not suggesting a 5 year warranty for the Dock Pro, but a single year of support is far too short. Having to turn to a third party like SquareTrade or Asurion for an extended warranty is an undesirable outcome at best.
Dock Pro Universal 4K Quad Docking Station
Enterprise class quad monitor connectivity, bundled with rapid charging, high-performance ports, and in a form factor that fits on a desk is a technological unicorn. IOGEAR makes shared workspaces a reality with this product, with only the shorter warranty giving me pause.
- Compact solid aluminum chassis
- Mix-and-match monitor ports
- Non-shared ports across the board
- Single-cable connectivity solution, with dual power charge options
- 1 year warranty is far too short
- USB-C is Gen 2 and should be 2x2